Trade & Customs 2016: Analysis

This year we recognise over 350 leading trade and customs lawyers from the international legal marketplace. Below we highlight some of the best-known individuals and law firms, according to our research. 

Thought Leaders
Edwin Vermulst VVGB Advocaten, Brussels
Philippe De Baere Van Bael & Bellis, Brussels
Paulette Vander Schueren Mayer Brown, Brussels
Marco Bronckers Law Office of Marco Bronckers, Brussels
Jasper Wauters King & Spalding, Geneva
Brendan McGivern White & Case, Geneva
North America
Gary Horlick Law Offices of Gary N Horlick, Washington, DC
Timothy Brightbill Wiley Rein, Washington, DC
Spencer Griffith Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Washington, DC
Jennifer Hillman Cassidy Levy Kent, Washington, DC
Darrel Pearson Bennett Jones, Toronto
Christopher Kent Cassidy Levy Kent, Toronto
Latin America
Ana Caetano Veirano Advogados, São Paulo
Renê G S Medrado Pinheiro Neto Advogados, São Paulo
Gustavo A Uruchurtu Uruchurtu y Abogados Consultores, Mexico City
Lingchen Pu Zhong Lun Law Firm, Beijing
Daniel Moulis Moulis Legal, Brisbane
Sanjay Notani Economic Laws Practice, Mumbai

Our analysis of the established powerhouses in trade and customs features both global law firms as well as boutiques. Practitioners at Sidley Austin, Van Bael & Bellis, Mayer Brown, Cassidy Levy Kent, Steptoe & Johnson, King & Spalding, and VVGB Advocaten are among the most widely recognised.

Sidley Austin is the top firm in our global listings with 13 leading practitioners listed. The firm’s top-ranked lawyer in DC is Andrew Shoyer, the head of its international trade and dispute resolution practice. Peers note him as “a top WTO lawyer” who is particularly proficient in dispute settlement proceedings. Neil Ellis is highly regarded for representing clients in tough trade remedy cases including anti-dumping and safeguard matters. A client appraises him as “a genuine expert who provides extremely practical advice on an urgent basis”, as well as being “a pleasure to work with on a personal level.” Richard Weiner is reportedly excellent in trade remedy cases. One client notes, “Weiner is responsive, thoughtful and practical in his advice." James Mendenhall is nominated for his international trade practice, with sources saying he “possesses true expertise and valuable experience.” Meanwhile, Richard Belanger is well attested for his “terrific” customs and export controls practice. Also in the DC office is Brenda Jacobs, who is "an experienced and savvy" trade and customs lawyer who regularly appears before a plethora of US authorities on complex trade matters.

The Brussels practice, spearheaded by Arnoud Willems, is well regarded by clients who describe him as “an excellent trade lawyer with formidable expertise”. He handles a range of sanctions and anti-dumping work. Jacques Bourgeois is a famed elder statesman in the area of competition and trade law. Sources praise his “great intellectual horsepower” and note him as a “walking encyclopaedia”. Meanwhile, Sven De Knop is “a formidable trade expert with lots of experience”. Reports one client, “He is very responsive and a quick thinker.”

In Geneva, the quality of the team in relation to WTO matters is superb. Founder of the office Scott Andersen is considered “a go-to outside counsel for WTO related issues”. One client notes, “In addition to being very knowledgeable, he is very cosmopolitan and can work easily in the international environment.” Todd Friedbacher is a widely recognised name in the market, with experience in high-profile disputes, including as lead counsel for Airbus in its WTO litigation with Boeing. Peers note, “His combination of legal excellence and economic expertise is at the very top-end of the market.” Iain Sandford is a highly experienced figure in WTO proceedings who regularly appears for parties before WTO panels and appellate hearings. One client says of Sandford: “I am deeply impressed by his capacity and professional competence. He is very knowledgeable.” Sources “have great respect” for Nicolas Lockhart, highlighting his “strong legal arguments” and “excellent legal analysis and writing” as notable strengths. He has over 20 years of expertise in WTO law, procedures and substantive law.

Van Bael & Bellis is the leading independent firm in our research. Headquartered in Brussels with a second office in Geneva, its international practice is focused on trade and customs, competition and EU law. The Brussels outfit is home to an impressive number of star lawyers. Philippe De Baere is regarded as “a real star at Van Bael and one of the top lawyers in Brussels” who is “practical, intelligent and very much liked by clients”. He has a broad practice covering EU and WTO trade law, as well as EU customs law and export controls. The “eminent” Jean-François Bellis is described as “the dean of the trade bar”, with praise forthcoming from the international trade community for his exceptional understanding of EU law. Richard Luff is seen as one of the top names for trade remedy cases, with extensive international experience. He is also noted as “one of the major experts in anti-dumping cases in Europe”. Yuriy Rudyuk has strong cross-border expertise, as well as an excellent understanding of the law and economics. Pablo Muñiz is "a very good customs lawyer, who is fast and responsive". Benoît Servais and Fabrizio Di Gianni are also among the leading names in Brussels. Meanwhile, Clotilde du Parc leads the WTO offering in Geneva and primarily handles dispute settlement proceedings. She is also highly regarded for her expertise in EU customs law.

Mayer Brown has a prominent offering on both sides of the Atlantic. In DC, Matthew McConkey is a very well-regarded trade and customs lawyer. He is particularly conversant in matters concerning South East Asia. Mickey Kantor is an impressive figure in international trade and WTO law, and his longstanding practice that has earnt him the respect of many in the community.

In Brussels, Paulette Vander Schueren earns widespread praise, particularly for her customs practice, placing her at the very top of our research. As one peer states, “She is one of the best and most practical attorneys in the EU in this area.” Meanwhile, the “illustrious” Nikolay Mizulin is widely recommended for his wide-ranging trade and customs practice, particularly concerning matters involving clients in Russia and the CIS.

Cassidy Levy Kent is a renowned international trade firm based in North America with offices in DC and Ottawa. Robert Cassidy Jr is a widely recognised leader in trade remedy proceedings, as well as export controls and customs issues, with over 35 years in public office and private practice. Jennifer Hillman is also among the top ranking names in the DC office. As a former ITC Commissioner and WTO appellate body member, she is very well known and deeply respected in the trade community. One peer effuses, “She is an amazing lawyer with a very good knack for the politics as well.” In Ottawa, Christopher Kent is very active on anti-dumping matters where he is widely seen as first-tier. He is also lauded as an “outstanding lawyer” for his “great work on trade remedies”. Christopher Cochlin is regarded as “a rising star”, with peers calling him “very smart, imaginative and personable” as well as “a great lawyer on domestic issues”.

Steptoe & Johnson has a distinguished international trade practice and performs well in our research. The majority of its recognised lawyers are based in its DC headquarters, including one of the very top lawyers in our research, Mark Moran, who is extensively experienced acting as lead counsel on high-profile trade cases, including before the WTO. One respondent gives Moran “very high marks”, noting him as “extremely strong analytically”. Richard Cunningham is one of the most respected senior trade lawyers in practice, having handled a significant number of noteworthy trade remedy cases across his nearly 50-year career. Peers refer to him as “a rainmaker”. Susan Esserman and Matthew Yeo also impress market commentators with their excellent practices. The former is “really good and easy to work with” and the latter is “very creative with really, really good insights”.

King & Spalding has a strong WTO practice based in Geneva. Jasper Wauters’ name stands out, particularly in trade litigation, with one prominent peer stating, “He is at the top of his game; I have only experienced and heard excellent things about him.” Daniel Crosby manages the Geneva outfit and is well thought of for his international trade practice, particularly in respect to advice and representation for clients in the energy sector. Meanwhile, in the DC office, Stephen Orava receives strong feedback for his trade remedy and WTO practice. Clients observe, “He is a creative advocate, substantively very strong, consistently thorough, and timely and sensitive to the client’s needs.”

VVGB Advocaten is a compact six-partner boutique based in Brussels, but nonetheless commands a significant presence in international and EU trade law. Clients highlight the firm for its “premier trade remedies practice”. Edwin Vermulst, the top European-based practitioner in our research, has a renowned trade remedy practice and has been involved in the vast majority of major EU trade defence matters for over 30 years. Folkert Graafsma is also extensively experienced and renowned for his anti-dumping and anti-subsidy expertise, having successfully represented clients in over 150 such proceedings. One source summarises, “He is definitely one of the top names, very active in the most important cases, as well as being very pleasant to work with.”

White & Case offering includes market-leaders in Geneva, DC, Tokyo and Brussels. Brendan McGivern heads the firm’s WTO practice from Geneva and receives wide recognition for his practice. He is known as “a very thoughtful guy” and “someone you trust with the biggest cases”. Osamu Umejima is one of the top names in the Japanese market, according to our research. As one client extolls, “He never fails to provide us with valuable and practical advice based on his deep insights.” He has broad-based expertise covering the WTO, countervailing and anti-dumping issues around the world.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has a strong outfit based in DC spearheaded by the “excellent” Spencer Griffith, who is noted for his world-class anti-dumping and countervailing practice. Former practice head Valerie Slater acts as senior counsel to the firm with a long-established reputation as “one of the leaders of the trade bar”.

At his solo practice in DC, Gary Horlick stands out of one of the very best trade lawyers in the world, according to our research. Peers and clients are effusive commenting: “He’s a first-rate trade lawyer who knows everyone and is doing a fabulous job.”

At Wiley Rein, Timothy Brightbill is very active in landmark trade remedy litigation and trade policy matters; most notably, as lead counsel to SolarWorld Industries in the first renewable energy-related trade remedy case and one of the largest to be filed against China. He is widely acclaimed in the market, coming out as one of the top three international trade lawyers in the US, according to our research.

Bennett Jones has the best trade outfit in Toronto. Darrel Pearson is highly respected senior name in both anti-dumping and customs issues. One peer calls him “a force to be reckoned with”, while a client highlights, “He is always responsive and his input has been indispensable in achieving positive results.” A former head of the Canadian government’s Trade Law Bureau, Matthew Kronby is also a well-known name. He is regarded as a “very knowledgeable, and a strong thinker and technician”.

A number of our trade and customs stars are based in Latin America. The most highly regarded is Ana Caetano of Veirano Advogados in São Paulo. Caetano “commands respect” for her WTO and trade remedy practice. “She is extremely good, active, hard-working and clever,” according to one peer. Respondents also have great things to say about Renê Medrado of Pinheiro Neto Advogados; one remarks, “He is a terrific lawyer, both on Brazilian and WTO law,” while other sources note that he effectively combines economic, political and commercial knowledge.

Gustavo Uruchurtu, founding partner of Uruchurtu y Abogados Consultores SC, is our top-ranked lawyer in Mexico. He has a prestigious reputation and his expertise in Mexican trade remedy cases, WTO law and NAFTA is well noted. At Jáuregui y Del Valle SC, David Hurtado Badiola is widely praised, with one source stating, “He is a fantastic counsel in all international trade and customs law matters in and out of Mexico.”

Economic Laws Practice is the go-to destination in India, according to many market observers. The practice is spearheaded by Sanjay Notani, “An intelligent, professional and knowledgeable counsel,” praised for his performances in trade remedy litigation. Suhail Nathani is also regarded as “one of India’s preeminent trade attorneys”. Sole practitioner Rohan Shah is described by peers internationally as “a standout name” for Indian customs and export control issues.

In Beijing, Lingchen Pu of Zhong Lun Law Firm tops our research in China. Peers describe him as “a very devoted and experienced international trade lawyer”. He is closely followed by a number of excellent Chinese trade and customs lawyers, including the “amazing” John Yong Ren of T & D Associates, Peng Jiang of Hylands Law Firm, and Stephen Peng of Jincheng Tongda & Neal, who is highlighted as a “detail-oriented lawyer with good judgement”. Meanwhile, Lin Yang leads the trade team at Ray Yin & Partners and is very well regarded for his practice in anti-dumping investigations. He is praised for being “responsive, detail orientated and knowledgeable”. As head of Guangsheng & Partners’ international trade practice, Hai Yan is particularly active in Chinese inbound anti-dumping cases. One respondent reports, “Yan is an excellent local counsel: he is sharp and has a good network of contacts.” Meanwhile, at Global Law Office, Frank Hang is a very strong outbound trade remedy investigations lawyer with expertise across anti-dumping, customs and safeguard matters.

Korea’s Kichang Chung of Yoon & Yang receives praise from a high number of international peers. One peer states, "Chung has a fantastic WTO practice, one of the best in the region for sure." Also in Korea, Doo-Sik Kim of Shin & Kim is highly rated by sources for his expertise in the area. They comment, "Kim is an experienced trade lawyer, knowledgeable and incisive."

Australia’s premier practitioner is Daniel Moulis, at his own eponymous firm. He is very well known for his WTO and trade remedy practice. Respondents find him to be “an excellent technician” who has “a very good understanding of WTO law”.

Gowling WLG has two lawyers listed. Richard Dearden is a seasoned practitioner, referred to by peers as “one of the best trade litigators in the country”. Alongside him, Wendy Wagner is well regarded for trade, export control and customs practice. She is regarded by clients as “one of our first choices for trade issues”.

Blake Cassels & Graydon trade and customs practice leader Greg Kanargelidis is “without a doubt a tier-one customs lawyer” said one interviewee. He receives wide-ranging praise for his “well-informed and responsive advice”.

In Malaysia, Jason Teoh Choon Hui, founder of Jason Teoh & Partners, is praised by peers and clients alike. One peer effuses, “He is a super-talented young lawyer who will become a leading name in the region.” In particular, respondents highlight the “excellent logical composition of his arguments” and his “strong strategic awareness”.

In Rajah & Tann’s Thailand office we list two standout individuals. Melisa Uremovic is regularly referred to as "the best trade and customs lawyer in Thailand”. A respondent also notes, “She is very smart, very practical and has all the details at her fingertips." Meanwhile, Supawat Srirungruang is reportedly “a very fine young lawyer” who is “building up an excellent trade and customs practice”.

At Dentons in Belgium, Edward Borovikov is a “very reliable” lawyer “with huge experience” in the area who, clients say, “quickly understands the specifics of our work”. Bogdan Evtimov is "a great trade lawyer and technically superb".

At Baker & McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise) in Japan, Junko Suetomi is an "excellent WTO lawyer and one of the rising stars in the region".

V Lakshmikumaran at Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan is "a longstanding and widely recognised leader in India" on trade matters.


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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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